Our Perspectives

From signatures to action


man and woman plantingClimate change requires a global commitment and national level action- neither is mutually exclusive.

When governments gather at the UN to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, an important step will be taken to ensure the ambition, momentum and political will of December’s COP 21.

Global buy-in is essential for any international agreement to be successful, but what often receives less attention is the equal importance of concrete action at country level to advance an agreement’s objectives. This is critical for the successful implementation of any agreement, and what makes a document negotiated thousands of miles away a tangible reality and source of support to national governments around the world.

The Paris Agreement affords us opportunities to scale up successes and undertake new and innovative responses to ensure that climate action also serves as a driver for long term sustainable development.

UNDP has been supporting countries in climate change solutions over the past two decades, showing the importance of country level action on climate change. We have an unrivalled understanding of translating global frameworks into action in line with national development contexts.

Many of UNDP’s existing country-level programs are already advancing the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Our “Boots on the Ground” program supports 26 countries to build national capacity to take forward national climate change action. This will be critical in laying the base for a successful implementation of the Paris Agreement.

In Lao PDR and Nepal, the program has supported governments to incorporate climate change in development policy and planning, so that climate change is not addressed separately from national development aims. In Cambodia and Guinea Bissau, it supports the creation of national policies, legislation and strategies to ensure national governance and accountability for climate action. In Djbouti and Benin, it is building government capacity to reduce the risk of increasing disasters from climate change by integrating climate change and disaster risk reduction policies.

Our Low Emission Capacity Building Program has supported 25 countries to devise low emission development strategies. This helps countries attract finance to further climate action and maintain systems to better understand and monitor greenhouse gas emissions. UNDP directly supported over 40 countries in preparing their nationally determined contributions, a key part of the Paris Agreement.

And we will support countries to make these contributions a reality at country level and spearheading innovative approaches. Our Derisking renewable energy initiatives encourage and facilitate the private sector to invest in sustainable energy, promoting green development and affordable energy.  Governments can pursue development that is low carbon and sustainable, whilst also contributing to global goals for a zero carbon, resilient future.

2015 saw the unprecedented agreement of a number of other new development frameworks including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals. There is a huge opportunity to encourage effective sustainable development by pursuing these frameworks in tandem with the Paris Agreement, so that climate action can drive sustainable development (and vice versa) and interrelated challenges such as disaster risk, inequality, food security, biodiversity loss can be pursued.

Again, the key to achieve this is how we pursue action at the country level. UNDP is already working to see how we can support countries to take an integrated approach to these frameworks.

As countries sign on the dotted line of the Paris Agreement on Friday, there is no better time to highlight the importance of country level action and the opportunities for innovative action going forward. Climate change requires a global commitment and national level action- neither is mutually exclusive. If we seize this joint opportunity together, we can use agreements of 2015 to usher in a new era of sustainable development, with climate change at its heart.

Jazmin Burgess Blog post Climate change and disaster risk reduction Energy Development Effectiveness Sustainable development Climate change Effective development cooperation Development planning and monitoring Environment

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